It’s seems almost impossible that there’s a form of computer technology that’s more than a half century old, but there is. The first mainframe computer, the IBM 360, was introduced in 1964. Here in the 21st century more and more applications are moving to the cloud, of course, so it would be fair to wonder whether there’s still a future in mainframe, or enterprise, computing. The answer is a resounding ‘yes.’

The power of the mainframe

For many businesses, a full or partial move to the cloud makes a great deal of sense: Advantages of cloud computing include no more worries about local backups or software updates, access from anywhere in an age of working remotely, and greater flexibility. But even the most secure cloud applications run the risk of being hacked, and the last year has seen a huge spike in cybercrime.

Mainframe computing offers a combination of power, security and scalability that can’t be matched in the cloud or elsewhere. In fact, according to a news post on IDG Connect, the most recent IBM z14 mainframe can process up to 12 billion transactions per day. That’s every ATM transaction, every booked flight. That massive power translates to cost efficiencies that cloud applications can’t provide.

For all those reasons, enterprise computing continues to be the way many larger organizations choose to get things done, especially in the areas of finance and healthcare. According to Slate, more than 10,000 mainframes are in service today, running hundreds of thousands of applications. That includes 96 of the world’s top 100 banks, and 9 out of 10 of the largest insurers.

Mainframe and the cloud

Mainframe computing and the cloud aren’t completely different. A mainframe system essentially allows an organization to run a private cloud environment, with huge amounts of storage, plenty of memory and the ability to virtualize workloads. In other words, enterprise computing offers the advantages of cloud computing without the vulnerability to external threats.

And for many organizations, cloud vs. mainframe is not an either/or choice. With proper attention to security, core applications like processing financial transactions are handled via mainframe while other tasks better suited to the cloud – say, customer loyalty programs – are managed there.

Clearly, mainframe computing isn’t going away anytime soon. And in fact, there are some sobering predictions of shortages of qualified personnel, because the systems are complex. That’s why we’re proud to have partnered with IBM to offer apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs in enterprise computing.